Start of FanFest kicks off All-Star week
Chance to see exhibits and participate in interactive games
ST. LOUIS -- Baseball fans can hit, pitch, throw and even field against some of the their favorite players at some of the exhibits at the Major League Baseball FanFest, which opens at 9 a.m. CT on Friday morning at America's Center in St. Louis to kick off the All-Star Summer.
MLB FanFest, dubbed the world's largest indoor baseball theme park, will give fans young and old the chance to experience several interactive exhibits including "Steal Home Challenge," "Home Run Derby," "Bring the Heat" and "What's Your Call."
In "Steal Home Challenge," fans can be timed as they run from third base to home plate and compare their time with some of baseball's best, including Lou Brock and Vince Coleman. They can also step into one of four batting cages and try to launch home runs over the fence 150 feet away in the "Home Run Derby."
"Bring the Heat" allows fans the chance to actually pitch against a video screen featuring some of their favorite hitters. Throw the ball fast and get a swing and a miss, but leave one out over the plate and watch as they crush it for a long home run.
"What's your Call" gives fans the chance to make the out/safe or fair/foul call on several close plays and then discuss the play and other rules with MLB umpires who will be on hand.
Fans can also step onto the infield and work on their defense by fielding grounders hit to them. All exhibits and interactive games are included in the price of admission.
"That's what this experience is all about, giving the fans the opportunity to experience those things first hand," said Cardinals Hall of Famer and FanFest spokesperson Ozzie Smith. "Not only that but getting to a chance to meet some of the players that they have admired through the years. This thing has grown, this is the 19th year and I can remember when I first started going to All-Star Games, it was half this size. The growth has been tremendous.
"This will be a wonderful experience for all of the people in this area."
There are several other booths and exhibits for fans to enjoy including a National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum featuring game-worn jerseys from Babe Ruth, Stan Musual, Albert Pujols and others. Fans can also have their own baseball card made or step behind the microphone and broadcast one of their favorite plays.
FanFest opens daily at 9 a.m CT and remains open until at least 7 p.m. from Friday through Tuesday. Tickets are $30 per day and include all attractions and booths.
But FanFest is just the start of what promises to be an exciting weekend in St. Louis. Here is a quick look at the other big events this weekend as part of the 80th All-Star Game:
Major League Baseball All-Star Charity Concert presented by Pepsi: Nine-time Grammy winner and Missouri native Sheryl Crow and special guest Elvis Costello will perform a free concert under the famed Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis on Saturday. The concert, which will begin on the banks of the Mississippi River at 8 p.m. CT, will be streamed live on MLB.com. Major League Baseball will donate $1 million to Stand Up To Cancer and those attending the concert and watching the live stream will be encouraged to donate as well.
MLB All-Star Charity 5K & Fun Run presented by Sports Authority and Nike: Participants will run and walk along a baseball-themed course that begins at Busch Stadium and ends at America's Center on Sunday morning. The 5K, an officially timed event, begins at 7:30 a.m. CT and the fun run begins at 8 a.m. Race proceeds will benefit Stand Up To Cancer, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Baseball legends Lou Brock, Rollie Fingers, Brooks Robinson and Vince Coleman will participate.
Taco Bell All-Star Sunday featuring the XM All-Star Futures Game and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game: Tickets still remain for Taco Bell All-Star Sunday, which begins with the XM All-Star Futures Game at 1 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium. Some of the best Minor League talent will be on display as the future stars of tomorrow play a nine-inning USA vs World formatted game. Following that will be the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at approximately 4 p.m., which features celebrities Nelly, Jenna Fischer, Chingy, Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Hamm and James Denton. Several MLB Hall of Famers will participate as well.
2009 State Farm Home Run Derby: Eight of the top home run hitters in the game will attempt to hit baseballs completely out of Busch Stadium and onto Clark Street during one of the highlights of the All-Star festivities on Monday night. Major League home run leader and hometown star Pujols highlights a star-studded field that also includes all three NL first baseman -- Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez. Players will attempt to hit one of three MasterCard "Hit It Here" signs that will result in $1 million being donated to Stand Up To Cancer if a player can hit one of them.
All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevy: The 2009 All-Stars will parade down the streets of downtown St. Louis as they make their way to Busch Stadium for the 80th MLB All-Star Game. Current All-Stars will be joined by former Cardinal greats including Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendinest, Smith, Bruce Sutter and maybe the game's greatest living hitter, Musial. The parade will be from 2-3 p.m. CT and re-aired later on MLB Network.
80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game: The grand finale to All-Star Summer in St. Louis features baseball's best players as the National League -- with World Series home-field advantage at stake -- tries to win its first All-Star Game since 1996 at 7 p.m. CT on Tuesday on FOX. The hometown Cardinals have two players in the starting lineup, first baseman Pujols and catcher Yadier Molina. President Barack Obama is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and all five living presidents will be featured in a video together for the first time in history.
B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.